by Dr. Marita Schauch, ND – Tall Tree Integrated Health Centre –
It’s a new year, and resolutions are flying left and right for better health. But when was the last time you considered the health of one of the most vital organs in your body?
Your brain. A healthy brain is not just about being smarter, it’s about optimizing virtually every process that occurs within your body because your brain plays a key role in every single one of them.
The smartest thing you can do in 2021 is take care of that big beautiful brain of yours. Here are the seven best things you can do for your brain.
Slow Down. Stress is a major factor in overall health, but it is especially important for the brain. Studies show that chronic stress degenerates areas of the brain involved in memory, selective attention and executive function. A little bit of stress is good mental stimulation, but remember to take the time to slow down and destress regularly.
Reduce Inflammation. Higher than normal levels of inflammation have been shown to be found in patients with Alzheimer’s, mood disorders, chronic depression and Parkinson’s disease and it is thought to be a significant factor. The best way to reduce inflammation is to eat an anti-inflammatory diet that minimizes inflammatory foods such as dairy, gluten, alcohol, coffee, refined sugars and red meat.
Take Care of Your Gut. New research shows that gut bacteria communicate with and influence brain function. For example, people with gut flora imbalance commonly have symptoms such as mood disorders, insomnia, “brain fog,” inflammation and intestinal disorders. Almost one third of patients with IBS have anxiety or depression. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet as well as taking probiotics and eating fermented foods such as kombucha and sauerkraut help optimize gut flora balance.
Exercise. New studies are providing even more evidence that regular exercise not only prevents problems with memory that come with aging but can actually help turn back the clock on brain aging.
Get Plenty of Sleep. Getting an appropriate amount of sleep helps to aid focus, memory and reasoning skills.
Limit the Use of Electronics. The instant and faced-paced world of TV, cell phones and other devices actually erode our ability to focus. Limit screen time wherever possible … might I suggest a good old-fashioned paperback?
Key Brain Supplements. There are a few supplements that are key for brain health:
• Vitamin D – Lower levels of Vitamin D may be associated with an increase in dementia and cognitive dysfunction. Get that sunshine while you can, and then talk to your healthcare provider about adding a supplement.
• Vitamin B12 promotes normal memory, concentration, and verbal function. As we age, it is more difficult to absorb vitamin B12 from our diet.
• Omega 3’s, which are found in fish oil, play an important role in brain function, especially in building cell membranes in the brain. They also have anti-inflammatory benefits that promote healthier brain cells.
• Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and also has antioxidant properties that have the ability to enter the brain, and bind and destroy any potential toxins.